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Moscow court slashes 'healer' Grabovoi's sentence by 3 years

MOSCOW, October 15 (RIA Novosti) - The Moscow City Court has cut the jail sentence of self-proclaimed healer Grigory Grabovoi, who had claimed to be able to resurrect the children killed in the 2004 Beslan school siege, by 3 years.

Grabovoi will now have to serve 8 years in prison, and have to pay a fine of 750,000 rubles ($28,750) to the state instead of 1,000,000 rubles ($38,350).

Grabovoi's lawyers said they considered that their client's sentence should have been cut by more than three years and that they would appeal the verdict.

In July Grabovoi, 44, was found guilty of 11 counts of fraudulently obtaining money "under the guise of resurrecting the victims' dead relatives or curing them of serious illnesses." He had denied all the charges, saying he had pursued political, public, religious and scientific activities in order to "bring benefit to people."

In 2005, Grabovoi made headlines all over the world when he promised to resurrect the children killed as Russian forces stormed a school that had been seized by Chechen militants in the North Caucasus town of Beslan. A total of 331 people, including 186 children, died in what has been referred to as Russia's 9/11.

In March 2008, the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that Grabovoi and his "social-political organization" - Drugg - had enjoyed the protection of high-up members of the Russian government and that the approval of then-president Vladimir Putin had been sought before his arrest in 2007.

Grabovoi had at one point claimed to enjoy the support of the president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, saying that he had been issued a license to work in the Central Asian state. The Kazakh embassy in Moscow denied this.

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